Will Workers Compensation Cover Depression? 2 Things You Need To Know

Law Blog

When you think of workplace injuries, chances are that you think of acute injuries, like a concussion from being hit by a falling box in an overcrowded storeroom, or chronic repetitive injuries, like developing carpal tunnel syndrome after months or years of sitting behind a desk at a computer. You probably don't think of depression. But depression can be triggered by events that occur on the job, and it may be a compensable injury under worker's compensation laws in your state. Take a look at a few things that you should know about depression and worker's compensation.

Depression is Common After an Injury

One thing that many people don't realize until they've experienced a serious injury is that depression may occur as a result of a physical injury. When you give it some thought, this is understandable. Sustaining an injury in the workplace can be very traumatic. You may suffer from pain or other symptoms of your injury. Your treatments, like physical therapy or medication, may be difficult and painful or come with unwanted side effects. You and your family may be under great stress. Your medical bills may mount up, you may lose wages and experience financial difficulties, you may lose the social benefits of interacting with your coworkers on a daily basis. Is it any wonder that you might begin to feel depressed?

What's more, depression can complicate your recovery. A study of injured adults found that depression was the most common psychiatric diagnosis in the year following an injury, and that patients with depression were less likely to return to the level of functionality they had before the injury during the year following the injury than patients who weren't depressed.

What this means is that if you sustain a physical injury at work, developing depression may be a further complication of that physical injury, and treating it may be integral to your recovery. This makes the depression a secondary job-related condition, and as such, it should be covered by worker's compensation.

Depression Can Also Occur Without an Injury

Of course, you can also experience depression without a physical injury. And although it's often difficult to prove, you may be able to show that your depression is caused by conditions in the workplace and therefore should be compensable by worker's compensation. For example, if you work in a hostile environment where you experience harassment, bullying, or threats, this can lead to depression.

There is precedent for this kind of claim. One famous and somewhat controversial example involved a police officer who was photographed in the act of pepper spraying a group of protesters in 2011. The image went viral, the officer's identity was revealed, and he began receiving large numbers of negative messages and even death threats. He claimed that these messages and threats caused him to suffer from anxiety and depression, and the medical evidence presented by expert witnesses concurred. The officer was awarded worker's compensation.

This is an example of primary job-related depression, where the depression is a result of conditions caused by the job, not as a result of an injury on the job. Whether or not one agrees with the officer's actions on the job, the officer's harassment and subsequent depression was a result of something that happened while he was on the job and were covered by worker's compensation. Typical cases of depression caused by workplace conditions are likely to be less dramatic and less public, however, and may not be as easy to prove.

When it arises from a physical injury sustained in the workplace or because of conditions at the workplace, depression is a legitimate workers compensation claim. However, that does not necessarily mean that your claim will automatically or easily be approved. Your employer's worker's compensation insurer will likely try to argue that your depression is caused by something unrelated to your job. If you believe you have a valid worker's compensation claim for depression, your best bet is to consult an experienced worker's compensation attorney, like one from Wolter, Beeman, Lynch & Londrigan LLP, to help you make a successful claim. 


2 August 2017

How to Gain Guardianship Over a Child

The laws governing child custody and guardianship can be confusing. As a family attorney, I have helped many clients gain legal guardianship over a foster child or a relative's child. Getting legal guardianship of a child you are caring for is important because you need to be able to make decisions about that child's education, health care and other matters. This blog will help you navigate the world of legal guardianship and show you how to take steps to get guardianship over a child whether the child's parents are cooperative or not. Legal guardianship does matter even if a child is not going to be adopted. I hope to help people find the way to get this done.